Baby walkers are a controversial topic. For several years, doctors have spoken very negatively about their use. What is a baby walker and how does it affect a child’s motor development?
The main aim of baby walker manufacturers is to make learning to walk easier and faster. This device is usually made of plastic. It is built with a supported seat that helps the child to maintain an upright semi-sitting position. It has swivel wheels so that the child can move faster on a flat surface.
There is a table top mounted to the seat, on which there are various toys to encourage the baby to stay in the walker. The newest versions have an adjustable seat height, so you can adjust it to the age of your toddler.
In theory, a baby walker is a very practical toy that supports your child while walking and protects them from falling. Unfortunately, in practice, the baby walker is not recommended by physiotherapy doctors and orthopaedists.
The most harmful thing for a baby to do is to put him in a baby walker before he can walk on his own. The muscles and joints of such a baby are not prepared for this – they are too weak to support the spine and pelvis.
When the child sits up independently, there are still many contraindications to using a baby walker – the disadvantages of this toy outweigh all its advantages. A child in a walker most often pushes off with the toes alone, thus limiting the development of a correct gait, i.e. from heel to toe
Incorrect positioning of the feet during walking can cause, among other things, valgus deformity. Poor muscle work may lead to lack of formation of proper arches in the foot, i.e. so-called flat feet.
In a walker a child does not push off alternately (left and right leg), which may cause problems in later learning to walk. Alternation is developed during crawling, this stage of development is very important for the brain of a toddler. During this time, both hemispheres develop at the same rate.
A baby has limited tactile stimulation while learning to walk in a walker. When a toddler learns to walk, he touches various surfaces while turning over, e.g. carpet, tiles, parquet. A toddler in a baby walker is limited to toys on the table.
Using a baby walker can have health consequences in later life. Problems can occur in preschool, school age, and adult life. The most common health problems caused by using a walker are:
In the worst case, it can even lead to scoliosis.
Many physiotherapists say that a much better alternative for learning to walk is a pushchair. This toy is designed for children who can balance on their own while standing near furniture. In order for the pusher to do its job, it must be properly weighted. Although a pushchair is much better than a walker, it can get your child lazy while learning to walk.
Main photo: Picsea, source: unsplash.com